9 Fantastic Books Set in the 50s & 60s

Reading historical fiction is a great way to connect with the past. Non-fiction history books can give you the facts, but getting inside the mind of a character through a work of fiction can make you feel more deeply connected to the events they're living through. The nine wonderful books listed here are all set during the intriguing times of the 1950s & 60s. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

9 Fantastic Books Set in the 50s & 60s

Title Author
1. The Longest Night Andria Williams
2. 'Til the Well Runs Dry Lauren Francis-Sharma
3. Dollbaby Laura Lane McNeal
4. We Shall Not All Sleep Estep Nagy
5. November Road Lou Berney
6. Gods of Howl Mountain Taylor Brown
7. The Silk Merchant's Daughter Dinah Jefferies
8. Bitter Orange Claire Fuller
9. Cruel Beautiful World Caroline Leavitt

5 Historical Figures From the 50s & 60s

  1. Martin Luther King Jr.: Influential leader of the civil rights movement
  2. Rosalind Franklin: Made ground-breaking discoveries about DNA
  3. Gloria Steinem: Journalism and feminist spokeswoman
  4. Claudette Colvin: Teenage civil rights activist
  5. Jackie Robinson: First African-American to play in the MLB

Fun Ways to Remember the 50s & 60s

Civil Rights and the 1950s

In Depth

The 1950s and 60s were a time of monumental change. The civil rights movement made great strides, overcoming a number of systematic obstacles, war raged in Vietnam, and all kinds of traditional mindsets were challenged by new ways of thinking. These nine fantastic books, listed here in no particular order, explore these two decades, and what they were like for the people living through them.

First up, at #1 is "The Longest Night" by Andria Williams. Set in the early 1950s, it follows military couple Nat and Paul Collier, who move to Idaho Falls. As Paul uncovers the truth about a dangerous nuclear reactor, Nat struggles with their relationship and finds comfort from another man. Tensions build and it's hard to say which will blow first: the reactor or their marriage.

Next, at #2, is "'Til the Well Runs Dry" by Lauren Francis-Sharma. Set in Trinidad during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, it follows Marcia Garcia, a young seamstress, and her turbulent relationship with police officer Farouk Karam. They start out living a simple Caribbean island life and eventually become gritty hustlers in New York City. As their story unfolds across decades, several challenges come between their family, testing their love, devotion, and support for each other.

They start out living a simple Caribbean island life and eventually become gritty hustlers in New York City.

At #3 is "Dollbaby" by Laura Lane McNeal. Ibby Bell is abandoned by her mother after her dad's death. Left to live with her eccentric grandma in New Orleans, Ibby meets the loving African-American maid Queenie and her daughter, Dollbaby. Living in the 1960s during the height of the Civil Rights movement, young Ibby learns about racism, family mysteries, and unexpected love.

Next up, at #4, is "We Shall Not All Sleep" by Estep Nagy. In 1964 New England, two tangled families, the Hillsingers and the Quicks, share a small island off the coast of Maine. Often competitive with each other, both families suffer from the same pressures and deal with the burden of maintaining their privileged social standings.

At #5 is "November Road" by Lou Berney. It tells the intertwining stories of Frank Guidry, a street lieutenant from a mob in New Orleans, and Charlotte, a woman from Oklahoma whose marriage is on the brink of failure. Frank is implicated in President John F. Kennedy's assassination and is on the run from his own mob. Charlotte leaves her husband and moves to California with her kids. Their fates suddenly collide, leading to an unusual pair and an unexpected romance.

Charlotte leaves her husband and moves to California with her kids.

Next, at #6 is "Gods of Howl Mountain" by Taylor Brown. Bootlegger Rory Docherty is a former soldier who lost a leg during the Korean war. He now resides with his grandmother in Howl Mountain, a dangerous territory where crime is rampant. Both tormented by their pasts, Rory and Granny May are forced to face and fight all of their lingering problems in a dog-eat-dog world.

At #7 is "The Silk Merchant's Daughter" by Dinah Jefferies, set in the Indochinese Federation in 1952. Nicole, a French-Vietnamese eighteen-year-old, is living in Hanoi with her father and her sister, Sylvie. Always overshadowed by Sylvie, Nicole is determined to make her father proud by making her silk shop a success. Amidst all this, Nicole ends up tangled in a rebellion looking to end the French rule. Torn between her heritage and priorities, Nicole is forced to make an impossible choice.

At #8 is "Bitter Orange" by Claire Fuller. After taking care of her for ten years, Frances Jellico loses her mother. Alone and unmarried, she goes to live in a dilapidated manor with a glamorous couple, Peter and Cara. Hired to renovate the mansion, she becomes deeply infatuated with her housemates. This obsession worsens when she discovers a peephole into the couple's room.

After taking care of her for ten years, Frances Jellico loses her mother.

Last at #9 is "Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt. The year is 1969. In rural Pennsylvania, Iris and her daughters Lucy and Charlotte all yearn for a better life. Driven by love and passion, Lucy finds herself running away from home with her English teacher, William Lallo.

As Iris and Charlotte try to put the puzzle together and find her, Lucy finds that her adventure with William wasn't exactly what she expected. Spending more time with him, she discovers his repugnant traits and eventually learns from her mistakes.